Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Building an RV park: Septic progress and 4th of July announcements!

By Machelle James
The days are beginning to blur together. We have had the construction crew here every day except for when it was snowing! There were about four days of snow and then came the 40-50 mph winds. We had to borrow Tractor Tim’s water trailer so we could keep the dust down while they were digging.

hit rock
Here is when they hit rock. This area took DAYS to complete the digging instead of a couple hours.

On dig day 1, all was going great and they were able to open up the ground for about 100 feet. Then they hit the dreaded rock shelf. Oh, it was bad! As in … they had to have another tractor come in and try to break the ground up. I volunteered to go to Show Low and pick up new “teeth” for the bucket so they could keep digging. It was painful to see they could only dig 100 feet in a week!

While they were digging and we could see how hard the ground was, we needed to make changes. We had to move a couple buddy sites as there was no way we could dig underground in the time frame we are on. We also had to move where a set of transformers were going in due to the ground being so hard.

Where to locate the transformers?

longest site
This is our longest site at 148 feet long. It is designed to hold 2 RV’s in line.

We had to call our Navopache Electric Engineer and ask what our options were. They told us we could move them as long as they had a 10-foot clearance from where the cabinets actually open up. We needed to find a central location that would feed the whole campground without getting run over.

We walked and walked and then POOF! There it was. We had a space we were going to place a ramada in, but, instead, it turned out to be a perfect place for the transformers to go. In addition, we also will have the service panels in this area. We marked out where the other service panels are going to be, as it needed to be in the same line of sight as the transformers.

We had to find some new sites

Remember how we moved the roads and refused to cut down trees for camping sites? Well, we needed to add those sites somewhere to stay at 43 sites. AJ and I must have walked at least 5 miles that day. We ended up working with Thomas, who is our underground contractor.

Thomas is so smart in his thinking. He has that internal German ingenuity that one rarely has the pleasure to see! Thomas whips out a pad of paper, starts doing math, measures the sites, where the roads are and engineers turning ratios on the spot. He tells us what will work and what will not work. We are both extremely impressed with his ability to “see” what we cannot. Now we have two new beautiful spaces that are going to be favorites in no time!

septic pipe
The first leg of septic pipe being attached to the septic tank!

Dan and his crew back-filled the septic tank area and now you can walk to the back of the property. They also started installing the internal mechanisms of the septic tank.

We still don’t have the covers yet as they are custom-made cement covers and they have to be made when the temperatures do not fall below freezing. There will still be below-freezing temps for a few weeks, so we have to wait for this part to be completed.

So much landscaping to do!

We have about 8 spaces that are already plumbed for septic, and we can see how the sites are coming together. I have been trimming up spaces and making sure there is room for the fire pit and a picnic table. There is SO MUCH landscape to be trimmed up. I don’t think anyone has ever cleaned up the property and WOW is it pretty!

Underneath all the overgrown shrubs are pine trees! I think we found more than 20 saplings to far – and this makes us SO happy! They are finally getting the sun they need and we hope they will start to grow faster now. We do not have green thumbs and we will need professional help to keep the landscape alive!

The culverts were being delivered.

Still waiting for final funding approval

Believe it or not, we are still waiting for final funding approval. I have no updates on this process as our loan is in underwriting as we speak. It is so stressful to not know one way or the other. But we are staying positive, as they have not asked for any more information that they may need.

4th of July celebrations!

We do have good news in another area though. We went to our local Chamber of Commerce meeting and our town’s 4th of July Parade and Fireworks were approved! Oh, this is such good news! It’s a two-day event and our Campground will be open by then. Our guests will get to experience a truly patriotic event! There are even Anvils being shot off 3 times throughout the town. (Editor: Yes, it’s what it sounds like. Check out an example here. Crazy!) Everyone gets woken up early to start the patriotic celebrations!

We are thrilled as we will be a driver in the Parade as well as a Vendor at the Park. Imagine the highway being shut down, cars/trucks/off road vehicles line the sides of the roads for a mile. You and your children wave flags as the decorated fire trucks, ambulance, Sheriff Department vehicles, tractors, trucks, floats, trailers, and off-road vehicles slowly make their way to our local park.

Once at the park, the Festivities begin! We will have live bands, food trucks, craft vendors and a beer garden! Then later that night, everyone drives over to the High School where there will be bounce houses, food and a SPECTACULAR Fireworks show. It is probably my most favorite event up here!

Our reservation system is on the way!

Our reservation system should be live in a few weeks. First we have to take classes on credit card compliance and how the software works. We don’t have the site’s picture ready yet, so we may need to wait on adding that feature as construction isn’t done yet. We’ll start with opening the 4th of July week and move the opening dates forward once we really have a timeline. We are still shooting for Memorial weekend, but with this crazy weather and product delays, we do not want to chance anything.

While I smile and think how far we’ve come, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. We are getting emails every day of people wanting to camp here. When we began our research, we knew this Campground was needed – and based on the daily inquiries, we have no doubt we will be full before long. We are humbled and we are excited to meet everyone.

Thank you for following our Campground journey, and See You in the Trees! And please leave a comment!

AJ, Machelle and Jenna

Read previous articles here.

Machelle James and her husband, AJ, are building, from the ground up, a 15-acre RV park in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona, in the beautiful White Mountains 140 miles from Phoenix. Follow them on Facebook @ AJ’s Getaway RV Park or on Instagram at ajsgetawayrvpark.




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Sharon B Woodard (@guest_119246)
2 years ago

It’s neat to keep up with your progress. So glad we invested in the campground and can’t wait until we get to check it out. Hubby had a stroke so we will camp vicariously through your blog for a while. Keep up the good work, you guys are awesome 😊 

Machelle James (@guest_119274)
2 years ago

Hi Sharon! We appreciate your support and trust in us! I do hope your husband makes a full recovery so you can still enjoy your passion for RV’ing. Prayed for him earlier today for a full recovery! 🙏 🙏🙏🙏🙏

Carl Michaelsen (@guest_119206)
2 years ago

We’ll be out your way mid April and would like to check it out. How do we find you?

Machelle James (@guest_119230)
2 years ago

Hi Carl! All our information is on Facebook at AJ’S Getaway RV Park . Or if you don’t have FB, our website should be up and running in a few weeks. It’s AJSGETAWAYRVPARK.COM
We look forward to meeting you!

Ed D. (@guest_119144)
2 years ago

Hey, we hope your funding finally gets approved. The anvil thing was insane. Glad that you will be open by July. The journey has been long but I am sure it will be well worth it in the end! Keep smiling!

Machelle James (@guest_119191)
2 years ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hi Ed! Oh we are waiting on pins and needles here. We had an update yesterday with the bank and it’s still a wait and see!

Dan (@guest_119045)
2 years ago

I really enjoy reading the up-dates on your park. Small business success so much more gratifying than big name business opening up a new branch. I doubt that we will ever be in that area, but if we are……

Machelle James (@guest_119071)
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan

Hi Dan! Thank you for the kind words of Encouragement! We are so excited at where we are right now. It’s only been 2 years!!

Machelle James (@guest_119190)
2 years ago
Reply to  RV Staff

I hear you!! 2 years is BRUTAL when trying to open up a Business!!

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